Tag Archive: inventory management

Forget About Reducing Inventory; Perhaps You Have the Wrong Supply Chain Strategy

December 16th, 2019

Clients and colleagues have demonstrated a heightened interest in inventory reduction recently despite not yet seeing the full value! Certainly with everyone worried about a potential recession in 2020, they are starting to think about not tying up as much cash in inventory but that is not the 100 pound gorilla. The real question is why we are thinking about corporate mandates and full warehouses instead of seeing the bigger picture – reevaluating our supply chain.

Of course, maximizing your customer service (on-time delivery, quicker lead times), margins/efficiencies and cash flow (inventory reduction) is an important standard best practice. To learn more about how to achieve this win-win-win, read our recent article ” Inventory Management as Fashionable as Automated Intelligence for Distributors” for ACHR News. Yet, it could become “rearranging chairs on the titanic” if your supply chain is not set up to deliver maximum performance. So, instead of jumping to erroneous conclusions, take a step back to reevaluate your end-to-end supply chain strategy.

When I was a VP of Operations & Supply Chain for a mid-market manufacturer, our private equity backers and Board of Directors were always asking about labor costs. It didn’t matter that labor costs was our smallest cost element. In fact, material cost was the 800 pound gorilla at around 70% of product cost, followed by freight. If we could double labor cost to reduce materials and freight, it would be a smart decision. Yet, it was never viewed that way. So, if a smart private equity group and executive team can bark up the wrong tree, we all might be speeding down the freeway but going in the wrong direction.

Typically, labor cost is 8-12% of the total cost of ownership. How does that compare to your materials cost? Unless you are in a labor-intensive industry, perhaps you better take a second look. Next there are freight costs. Not only do freight costs continue to rise but the rules, regulations and delays can be astounding. In a recent California Inland Empire District Export Council (CIEDEC) meeting, the new sulfur emission rules for shipping arose because costs will have to be passed on to importers and exporters. Of course, we don’t have to mention tariffs and global unrest. Now, let’s add inventory carrying cost into the equation. It is a minimum of 6%.  Yet, most experts (and clients) agree that it is truly a minimum of 25% and could be as bad as a 1:1 ratio. Just think about how often your customer changes his mind, all the expediting you have to do to serve customers and the systems and complexity your team has to manage. Is it time to reevaluate?

ERP system
Let’s not forget that this equation isn’t just an insource or outsource question. There are lots of opportunities. For example, you might want to think about the following questions:

  1. Where are your customers?
  2. Where are your suppliers?
  3. Is there disruptive technology that could impact your cost ratios?
  4. How complex is your supply chain? Have you thought about the price of complexity?
  5. Do you have a robust ERP system to support customer expectations while achieving profitable growth?
  6. Are there supply chain partner programs that could completely change the game?

No matter your situation, it is worth revisiting. Corporate strategies last NO MORE than a year so why are we leaving our supply chain to old rules? Instead, we should be future-proofing our manufacturing and supply chain business.

Stay tuned and read more about it If you are interested in discussing a supply chain assessment, please contact us.

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What is Walmart Doing?

October 5th, 2017

I sat on a panel of experts for Mobility 21’s annual conference titled “Speed to Delivery: Good’s Movement’s High-Tech Future“, addressing the future of transportation. It was a fascinating meeting and panel discussion due to the amazing amount of technology being discussed – and one of the panelists was the Senior Director of Sustainability for Walmart.

Walmart’s focus on speed and the customer is paramount.

Driving the Future of Transportation.

Walmart has come up in several circles lately. One of our clients supports Walmart’s stores, and so we learned quite a lot about their fulfillment processes, demand planning practices and, of course, their new OTIF (on-time-in-full) metrics. We also discussed Walmart service with a 3PL partner, and how Walmart has been making headlines lately in the e-commerce race. It is worth paying attention. Here are a few of the highlights:

  1. The focus on the customer is paramount.
  2. The use of crowd sourcing is gaining steam with the use of Uber and Lyft to deliver from the store.
  3. Who knew but Walmart is testing deliveries with drones as well!
  4. Walmart associates are making deliveries on their way home which is possible with the software that can align deliveries with routes.
  5. They just announced a partnership with August Home Smart Lock to deliver when the customer isn’t at home – and even put groceries in the refrigerator.

It is always a good idea to stay up-to-speed with what the leaders are doing in the industry. Their ideas are not always the ones to follow but they are ALWAYS ones to ponder for application, impact and down-the-line trends. Who do you follow?

 

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Which Business Best Practices Do Top Notch Trusted Advisors See?

October 5th, 2017

In my ProVisors ODAM (Ontario-hosted Distributors and Manufacturers group – don’t you love the play on words?) meeting this month, we discussed business best practices we’ve seen with our manufacturing and distribution clients. It was a fascinating discussion as our group is diverse and consists of the most respected attorneys, CPAs, commercial insurance, business financial advisers, and consultants from around Southern California. Yet, we agreed rather quickly on core best practices. Thanks to Ron Penland for making the meetings engaging and trend-worthy.

Best business practices, this way….

Here are some of the top themes surrounding best practices:

  • Start by understanding financial statements and cost – it’s interesting how often this arises with our clients.
  • Look for the value add.
  • Find ways to scale without increasing costs. There are many options such as leveraging technologies, best practices, trade associations and more.
  • Leadership equals profit improvement. End of story.
  • Don’t start planning your exit “too late”.
  • Consider process improvement techniques such as lean manufacturing, SIOP (sales, inventory and operations planning), etc.
  • Be aware of your indicators and metrics.

More Best Practices

Are you reliant on figuring everything out yourself? We hope not! The most successful people find groups, attend seminars and conferences, engage with trade associations and interact with others who are up-to-speed on the latest trends and timeless success traits. If you think you might need to go a step further, feel free to contact us and we’ll suggest a few strategies for you.

 

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Wisconsin Provides HUGE Tax Incentives to Lure Apple Manufacturer

September 25th, 2017

Supply Chain Briefing

The state of Wisconsin granted $3 billion in tax incentives to Foxconn to entice them to manufacture in the midwestern state. This is not only the highest government subsidy ever offered for a foreign company to locate to the U.S., but it also specifically entices production that goes into the Apple iPhone. It certainly proves that blanket statements about innovation in government are just as inaccurate as all others! Wisconsin shows that thinking outside the box can be achieved even in government.

Wisconsin manufacturing

Clearly, it also shows that manufacturing is relevant in today’s environment. Have you thought about whether you are thinking outside the box? And are you searching for what might be available to support manufacturers? There are actually many programs (federal, state and local) where you can gain “free” money for things you already do – perform research & development, provide training (California has incentives), and the list goes on. Feel free to contact us anytime to learn more.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

What might seem impossible to us might not be! Do you tend to write off ideas before considering their full value? Perhaps we should take a page from Wisconsin’s playbook and look at the big picture, think long-term and mix it up a bit. We should also take a second look at innovation. Do we have a work culture that will support out-of-the-box ideas? If not, we must start there.

And, last but not least, do you consider manufacturing relevant? Although I live on the border of the Inland Empire in California, which is known for big box distributors (Target, Amazon, Apple 3PL’s etc.), it is simply amazing how much manufacturing is also located here. You hear about how everything has moved to China or Mexico and manufacturing is dead but “we are not dead yet” (reminds me of the Monty Python…) Actually, we are far from dead – there is quite a strong push to locate manufacturing closer to customers and leverage innovative collaborative and efficiency programs to ensure profitability to boot. If you’d like to learn more, take a look at programs like APICS Inland Empire‘s session on “Changing Trade Policies and its Effect on Reshoring“. Fascinating stuff no matter where you live.

 

If this topic interests you, take a look at Samsung Expanding Manufacturing in the U.S.

 

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A Tour of Skechers and Jaw Dropping Savings (and Innovations)

August 28th, 2017

Supply Chain Briefing

Recently, I went on a tour of Skechers with my ProVisors group. We’ve heard so much about the building and related innovations from the developer, Iddo Benzeevi, and were really excited to see it in action. There are truly jaw dropping savings from the total picture – $25 million a year reduction in operating costs. Who can argue with that? Certainly not environmentally-conscious people as it is also the largest LEED Gold Certified building of its kind to be awarded with this distinction by the U.S. Green Building Council. There is no air conditioning required due mainly to the innovative design. In comparison, discussing topics like solar seems boring! And, of course, it is the picture of warehouse automation. Are you thinking beyond impossible like these folks did?

Touring the Skechers Mega Facility Innovations

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Innovations like these should definitely get us thinking. First of all, do you see roadblocks like environmental bottlenecks as insurmountable? Or, do you see them as nothing more than a challenge? Although most would have trouble envisioning the goal of saving $25 million a year, if you never think about it, it definitely won’t occur. Think BIG!

Certainly the impacts of this type of building can be seen as amazingly progressive – or problematic, depending on your point of view. Clearly, if we can build this type of innovation into our manufacturing and distribution businesses, we will be vastly more competitive – and more likely to stay in the U.S., and even California. On the other hand, Skechers has far fewer people operating this facility than the multiple facilities they operated previously. And, in order to operate this facility, a higher level of skills is required.   Higher skills can also be seen as “good” and “bad”. There is a lot of talk about the need for higher skilled jobs in the Inland Empire to retain our students with good opportunities, yet it can also be challenging to find these skills.

Either way, hiding your head in the sand will not solve the problem. Why not join the innovators? Get out to see new and interesting ideas. I learn something every day – from every client, every tour, and every interaction. Sometimes the ideas I have do not relate at all to what I’ve seen but it prompts thinking or brainstorming in different directions. Why not consider what you’d need to go down the path of innovation?

 

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